E3 2011 Anticipation: Kinect and Xbox 360

If you’re one of the mainstream consumers who purchased Kinect last fall, chances are you stumbled upon this article by mistake. If you’re a hardcore gamer who passed on Kinect, I have some good news: E3 isn’t going to suck this year.

After E3 2010, the Xbox maker insisted that Kinect would be a device for hardcore gamers. This is the year for Microsoft to fulfill that promise. I am confident that they will with at least one or two exciting game announcements.

E3 Predictions: Kinect and Xbox 360 Announcements

Kinect App Store: This could be Apple’s worst nightmare. Having witnessed the success of homebrew hacks, Microsoft has reportedly sent out development kits that allow programmers to officially design Kinect applications. While this is not a confirmation that Kinect will receive an online marketplace in 2011, it is the perfect time for Microsoft to strike: while Sony is wounded, while Nintendo is bumbling, and before Apple has had a chance to release a motion device of its own.

Kinect’s First Shooter: They say it can’t handle shooters, and they might be right. But that won’t stop developers from trying to bring first-person shooters to a controller-free environment.

How could this possibly work? At first, we might be stuck with an on-rails experience. While the resulting game might play like a Time Crisis clone, the developers could use Kinect’s technology to track our movements and produce some amazing features. For example: instead of standing in front of your TV and moving your hands around to shoot, the player would have to move around the room to dodge attacks and other hazards in real time.

The Future of Halo: It may be too soon for the next Halo to be unveiled. But rest assured that Microsoft isn’t likely to let E3 pass without mentioning the next game in the series–especially if there will be a version for Kinect. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t Halo Wars 2 be the perfect candidate?

Alan Wake Teaser: Just as GameZone writer Joe Donato recently speculated, the next Alan Wake could be a Kinect game. That would be amazing.

However, in trying to make the next Alan Wake (which won’t be called Alan Wake 2) for a wider audience, the developers may simply aim to produce a more mainstream-friendly action/horror game. Whatever it may be, an E3 teaser is very likely.

Stronger Support from Capcom: It’s no secret that Capcom is done with exclusives. While the company once made millions (and produced several hit franchises) by staying loyal to a single console, Capcom is now a multi-platform developer.

Capcom was very frustrated by PSN’s outage. While the service is finally back online, that doesn’t make up for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Capcom already lost. Consequently, don’t be surprised if you see Capcom developers and execs proudly standing next to Microsoft while happily touting the Xbox 360 versions of its games. That might not sound like a huge deal, but it speaks volumes at an event like E3.

Kinect Games for Windows: Microsoft has already confirmed that Kinect will come to the PC when the time is right. While it is unknown when that time will be, I am betting it will be this year. I am also betting that Microsoft will dedicate a small portion of its E3 press conference to hype the new version of Kinect and whatever special features it brings to the table.

Skype: Now that Skype belongs to Microsoft, expect the company to brag about its future at E3. But don’t expect any revolutionary announcements until E3 2012 or later.

Kinect Plastic … Run!: This hilarious plastic wheel is only the beginning. Kinect is all but guaranteed to receive a round of useless peripherals that are aimed at gullible consumers who don’t understand the logic behind a controller-free device. When you see them, run!